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Tag: Women's issues -

Every house a home


Kazuri holistically addresses the housing needs of women, now we need you to engage…

Whitehall generated, generic housing policy fails vulnerable women already marginalised and disenfranchised by society. Existing mainstream policy encourages a culture of dependence because it looks at the client’s needs in isolation against a framework of benefit entitlements, rather than self actualisation or empowerment.

It is a gradual and stressful transition from an existing traumatic place, be it prison or an abusive relationship to another round of refuges, hostels and unsafe, unsustainable accommodation culminating in the client finally being housed in a residence a client can call home.

Kazuri’s approach is radically different and you can be part of the process of recovery through community action. We need socially engaged supporters to help us maintain the provision of sustainable housing for every woman.

Our Housing First model is deployed by assigning each woman with a dedicated advocate, who works to empower the woman (and her family) to reach her potential and achieve realistic goals. Empowerment breaks the culture of benefits, violence, trauma and crime. Our clients live productive lives as stakeholders in society and they volunteer in local charities or social enterprises, to rebuild fragmented broken bonds.

You can be part of that success story. Each woman can also avail herself of the services of a mentor, a woman who has achieved some level of success in her community, as she wishes.

It can be a long journey and the advocate, the mentor and the Kazuri community will be there every step of the way that takes investment from all involved.

So how do we help you do this and how can you help?

Kazuri builds on the existing success working with women ex-offenders, those on Local Authorities housing lists and women facing homelessness through domestic violence. We need supporters to invest time, love, resilience, energy and money! Investment goes beyond the financial, time, awareness and support are just as valuable. This is aligned with the holistic approach we adopt at Kazuri. Look at the whole picture and you will see a place in that vision for yourself.

Our current crowd funding campaign on Buzzbnk lists multiple ways to get involved and raise awareness of an innovative way to reach the most vulnerable who are hardest to reach. Click here []

Look out for our next crowd funding venture, Devi Ghar (Goddesses’ Home), a fully serviced women’s resilience centre offering everything from holistic body treatments, trauma counselling and a women only hotel.

We’re also currently offering internships involving tenancy sustainment, mentoring and coaching, training and property management. Click here – (Direct Word Document download) []

Call Kazuri on 020 7 377 5791 or email

Taken from Issue 16

Clean Break

Lisa Jones

I was born in Somerset to a fairly normal family, youngest out of five. It was a nice upbringing and materially we were okay. Initially I went to state school. But I started getting into trouble at 11 and 12 years old, smoking cannabis and drinking.

Then Dad sent me to an independent school. I was getting bullied there and then I started to have big problems with my Dad as I wanted to change schools. Also I didn’t really feel supported by my Mum. Things went bad from there.

I had a very low sense of self worth and started seeking it outside the family home. I started getting into relationships with men who were involved in substances – I was really drawn to that. Looking back I can see the direction I was going. I was thrown out of home at 14 and moved in with a career criminal involved in drugs. Then I started to get involved. Already by 16, I was using drugs every weekend although I did get my GCSEs.

I was enjoying myself and working in pubs – I was quite outgoing and confident. Then I met my son’s Dad and he was an addict although I didn’t realise it at the time. By the time I was pregnant it was too late. I got caught selling drugs at a festival and got a custodial sentence. My son was 8 months old at the time. So initially I went to prison for young offenders as I was 20 at the time. I got 18 months. I served 9 months. I feel it wasn’t fair – it was my first offence and I had an 8 month old baby.

I didn’t feel supported in prison and felt even more lost. All it had done was take me out of society and there was no guidance of how to get back in. My first thought was to get wasted as I didn’t know how to cope. My son and I ended up in a mother and baby unit and that helped.

I heard about Clean Break in prison, although I was into drugs for a while afterwards, but I finally got in touch. At the time I was in Dorset. My son was living with my parents. I really felt I needed to start a fresh and wanted to move to London and wanted to focus on working with Clean Break.

In November 2009 I finally got in touch with them. I love them so much. I was so broken at the time. I feel they gave me my life back and now I’ve managed to stay clean for a year. My daughter stays with me. Now I see my son more regularly. I went from no confidence to speaking at the Houses of Parliament advocating Clean Break’s work. I have performed on stage.

Today, I’m starting an art foundation course at an adult college. Clean Break were the bridge that I needed to get from the lifestyle I was living back into the real world. That’s what Clean Break did for me. It was a safe, honest and open environment with similar people to me.
Other women can learn that change is possible. At my lowest, I was a heroin addict sleeping rough on the streets. Any outsider would think that I wouldn’t get out of that. But I believe if a person puts enough effort into change they can do anything.

For more information on Clean Break visit

Taken from Issue 17

The day I lost my Id

Sarah Hastings

The Freudian definition of id is the unorganized part of the personality structure that contains a human’s basic, instinctual drives.

Life happens. Well at least we say it does. Truth is, life did just keep happening – to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to bore you with some woe is me, my childhood is to blame type tale. This is simply about the day I lost my id.

I’ll tell you briefly because I have gone through far too much counseling, too many group sessions, one-to-ones, forensic therapy sessions, focusing on the action of my crime and supposedly the reasons why. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that I had to go through the various methods of therapy and I have learned a lot from them. I regret what I did and as the old cliché goes, if I could turn back the clock I would.

Here is a brief history of my life before the fatal day.

I’m a mum, and a good one at that considering I lost mine when I was four. Understandably I had no maternal instinct or inclination. I would have had a termination if it wasn’t for the fact that I was twenty three weeks pregnant when I found out I was carrying a child who would affectionately become known as my one son.

My baby girl came along ten years later.

Life was fun. I was young, performing gigs with two different bands, doing backing vocal session work in studios, working nine to five, partying and single.

The biological donor of my son (my son’s words not mine) was not interested in becoming a father.
Anyway, it wasn’t a big love affair so when he said he’d had a vasectomy (27yrs old-yeah right!) I accepted it and went on my merry way.

In my early teenage years I was raped on more than one occasion, lost my best friend in a train accident, went to boarding school, became devoted to listening to Billie Holiday and watching old black and white movies. I was in love with Axel Rose, Michael Schumacher and Robert De Niro. I needed this type of escapism because most of the men in my life were not very nice.

Looking back, being told I’m “too fat” when I was 5’8 and a size 10 wasn’t a reason to do an extra 5K on the treadmill in order to keep someone more insecure than myself happy. I was fooled with the “it’s only because I love you”.

I did not realize it then but this was all a prelude to my accepting the brutal, mental, physical and sexual abuse I would experience at a time in my life when things should have been pretty good.

I fell in love. Hook, line and the rest. He had green eyes, silver hair and loved Arsenal FC as much as I did.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, it just did. Slowly over time. Mental before physical, then sexual after physical.

Once I had been subjected to the mental abuse for a long period of time I welcomed the physical as a Godsend because I knew it would stop, be it even at the point of death while losing consciousness. Because of the phone wire wrapped around my throat, or the unloaded gun which I believed was loaded (compliments of his mate Derek from Deptford) being held to my head . Or being pushed over a balcony from the second floor (teeth still missing). Whatever takes his fancy but, soon I know it will stop.

When the raping begins, I am devoid of all feeling.

This person, the womanizer, the degrader, the drug taking once love of my life who rapes me for fun, beats me for pleasure, who humiliates me by sleeping with my friends, next door neighbour and random innocents.

This man now controls my whole being. It is a symbiotic relationship which finally takes over and strips me of the last vestiges of the person I once was. This man, for some screwed up reason, I now think I cannot live without him, for some screwed up reason I still think I love him.

The day I lost my id was a fatal one. I stabbed him, God knows I never meant to kill him.

I went to prison. I have many labels now.

I have my id back.

Taken from Issue 17


Deborah Sibley

My name is Debs and I want to tell you about my story…

By the time I was a teenager I had just about given up on my life. Having constantly clashed with my family throughout my teens I was eventually fostered by my best friend’s mother. Although happy there, I fell pregnant at a young age and moved out to start a family with the father. However, after growing apart we separated and my daughter and I began living alone in a council house in Beaumont Leys. Life was a struggle. I was in debt, trying to live off £20 a week and was surrounded by harmful people. I wanted more from my life but I didn’t know how to get it and couldn’t see a way out.

There had been a murder on the street where I lived and this encouraged me to move away into the city centre. I managed to find a job working in a bar, which made me feel so much happier and in control of things. I met my husband and fell pregnant again so things were going well for me for a while. But then my boss began to bully me at work. I lost my unborn baby and hit rock bottom. A feeling of loss and overwhelming sadness hit me and my family hard, and the anxiety I had felt before was stronger than ever. Feeling desperate and trapped I turned to alcohol and drugs which began to get me into trouble with the Police. My husband was in and out of court for violence and drinking at the time. Basically because of the bullying at work and losing the baby we got into drugs and we were arguing a lot and the family involved the social services. The police were coming to the house because of the arguments. We had a child there too.

It was then an Outreach Worker from the ‘Just Women’ project contacted me. We’d had a social worker out which worried us as things were getting out of hand and through my housing officer and social worker we met this outreach worker who I will call Helen. I knew that my family and I needed help and I could really open up to Helen. I realised that this was not a way for a young woman to live, so I enrolled on the project. I didn’t want my life to go downhill any more. I wanted to change quite early on but it was difficult to split away from my ex partner.

‘Just Women’ was my saving grace. It’s run by a charity called New Dawn New Day, which is based in Braunstone but works with women and their families from across Leicester and Leicestershire. The project provides a range of support services for people like me including money advice, one-to-one support, independent life skills and healthy living sessions. It was here that I met a fantastic woman who gave me counselling. She taught me to allow time for myself, to focus on ambitions, surround myself with positive people and to accept the good things in life. Helen gave me the support and understanding that I needed to let whatever was hurting me out and the courage to begin to turn my life around.

While on the project I discovered skills and confidence that I didn’t know I had. As a result I felt inspired to start up my own photography business. Since then I haven’t looked back. My company, ‘Debnheirs’ is going really well. It’s peak season for weddings at the moment so we are very busy and I’ve already received bookings for 2016!

Hopefully my story goes to show, if you are passionate about changing your life, you can. Help is out there. Through the Just Women project I have managed to turn my life around. With the confidence, motivation, skills and experiences I gained from the project, I now have a company to be proud of, a better relationship with my partner and my kids and a bright future for myself and my children to look forward to.

Women have to find the help themselves. It didn’t get help in my lap – rather I had to admit that I needed help first.

Taken from Issue 17

Women in Prison Conference


I was asked by Jo-Anne the manager of the Oasis project if on Tuesday 13th September 2011, I would like to attend a conference in London with her in reference to do with women in prison. Questions had been sent to women in prison, to be read out by members of the audience. I had been asked if I would read one.

Firstly I was so grateful to even be asked to go such an important event, I was thrilled and excited, then the nerves kicked in because I didn’t know what to expect. I knew there was going to be a panel there but I didn’t know exact numbers that were going to turn up. I have got a big mouth at the best of times and sometimes I never shut up, most of it waffle mind you but to speak out in front of so many people made me quite anxious and excited but all in a good way. I just looked forward to the day of the conference, still wondering what would be said, the sorts of things people could ask, say and even if I would have the courage to say anything, ask anything or even give a important response that I felt strongly about.

At the conference I was really surprised by the turn out, the people that attended obviously cared about what was going on in our criminal justice system and the fact that there were women in jail and maybe most them shouldn’t be. The lady that had organised the conference came over and gave me a little slip of paper with a question on it that she would like me to read out for one of the prisoners. The event was being recorded. My initial thought was I can’t do this if the whole nation is going to see it, what if I stutter or make a mistake or even forget what I was going to say, I started to panic just slightly so I studied the question that needed to be read out; at least if I remembered it I couldn’t go wrong.

The question was to Eoin McLennon Murray, head of the Prison Governors Association, who was on the panel, it read:
“Why does probation constantly over populate our prisons for breaching? If circumstances were taken into consideration sometimes the reasons should be valid and recognised. After all it costs over £53,000 to the tax player to put/keep someone in prison for a year.”

His reply was, that was a very good question that he strongly agreed with and said probation holds too much power when it comes to breaching. Some of the reasons that land women in jail should be explored a little deeper.

After listening to the other panellists’ and hearing one of the girls speak out about her life experience and working with the Oasis project, I suddenly had this burst of confidence. I put my hand straight back up and started reeling off my life story about my experience of being a heroin addict on and off for 12 years and the lack of support which I really needed at the time. The kids had been placed with my mum because I made one stupid mistake. The crimes I committed including, one which meant that I was up before different judges four times in nine months for shoplifting. Three of them had given me fines as punishments and on the other one they had given me an electronic tag for three months. Why they did that no-one knows not even my solicitor at the time, because my crimes were committed in the day, the tag curfew was for the evening so that made no sense whatsoever. No mental help or any help for my drug addiction was offered. The only thing the tag did was add fuel to fire and made me worse. Not once through my criminal proceedings did anyone mention a DRR (Drug Rehabilitation Requirement), it was a friend that told me about them. When I got arrested again and got put before the judge, I myself asked for DRR bearing in mind I hardly knew what one consisted of.

The point I wanted to get across in the conference was that these issues need to be talked about more in court, it won’t solve the problem but it will stop women with first time offences going to jail. Like one of the points discussed in the conference, there is a man on the street with nine GBH/Assaults on his criminal record and he still hasn’t been to jail.

The Judge’s reply, at the time was women shouldn’t be seen to commit this sort of offence, that’s why she went to jail, to teach her a lesson; where’s the justice in that?

There was another story that was talked about by one of the panellists and that was of a young lady that went to prison, her mum went in every week to visit her but the young woman was having a really bad time in prison and in the end she ended up committing suicide. A high number of female inmates self harm whist in jail. The mum visited her daughter’s grave everyday and in the end the mum ended up committing suicide as well, on her daughter’s grave. I think a lot of these situations can be prevented if the government put a little more time and money into the reasons why women are in jail and, if there is any way jail can be a very last resort.

There was another point I wanted to make at the conference but I got brain freeze and I forgot. On the street they say that if I went into rehab I would lose my flat. I think that’s unfair because for some of us that’s all we have left and to lose that would just be a massive knock down, because we could go into rehab and come back out to our own apartments instead of being placed in a hostel where its full of addicts and we’re likely to relapse.

Overall I’m glad I went to this conference, I learnt a great deal. I would support this, day in, day out. I’m a mum of two wonderful, intelligent children, I have had a drug problem ever since I understood what happened to me when I was 8 years old. I have made some mistakes and some very bad choices, but right now I’m trying my hardest to kick my addiction. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I hope whatever situation I got in, a judge wouldn’t just throw me in jail, I would hope they would try everything going first. I do know one day I will kick this addiction and it will be for good so I will be good enough to get my kids back because when I’m good with my kids, I’m good.

Taken from Issue 17

Martina Cole – Q&A

Farah Damji

Martina Cole – the crime writer who “tells it like it really is” – was born and brought up in Essex. She is the bestselling author of fourteen novels set in London’s gangland, and her most recent three paperbacks have gone straight to No. 1 in the Sunday Times on first publication. Total sales of Martina’s novels stand at over eight million copies. Here she speaks to theRecord about her work for the women’s special issue.

How does your environment affect you?

I think that your environment always affects an author’s writing, its what you know.

How do you research your female protagonists?

I research in lots of ways. I often look through books on psychology etc.  Mostly I just create the women, flaws and all!!


What’s your interest in women in the Criminal Justice System?

I do as much as I can for women’s plight, from one parent families – women in prison to women in refuges – it’s amazing how often these things go hand in hand.

What do you think are the first steps to reform?

I think the first step to reform is WANTING to change your life for the better.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a film at the moment. I’m finishing my new book, called Payback. A story of revenge. I’ve also been putting the finishing touches to Dangerous Lady, which has been adapted for the stage at the Theatre Royal Stratford East.

How do you relate to your female protagonists?

I think I understand my women because I come from a similar background, of course that will influence my work.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

What normally gets me out of bed in the morning is work.  It’s a hectic life these days but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What makes you smile?

My children and my grandchildren make me smile, corny but true!

Taken from Issue 17

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